Take a bow Trent Robinson.
If every coach was like the Sydney Roosters’ boss, maybe our game would be known, and played, more widely.
Robinson took his NRL championship winning side to France before the February 17, 2019, World Club Challenge match against Wigan in Wigan, England.
The Roosters trained against Toulouse Olympique in Paris, before heading to England, where they also had an opposed session against Wigan’s arch rival, St Helens, after a meet the fans night, in Wigan.
France is the forgotten member of the rugby league community, as everyone fawns over the Pacific Island nations.
The French, with their great sides of the 1950s and ’60s, helped keep rugby league as the number one international football code in Australia, well ahead of union and soccer.
With ‘Sydney’ rugby league televised across new South Wales and Queensland from the late 1960s onwards, international tours lost a lot of their significance.
The last time a French side was given the courtesy of playing at the Sydney Cricket Ground and Brisbane’s Lang Park was 1981, the year ‘the King’ Wally Lewis, made his Test debut for Australia.
Rugby League in France will celebrate its centenary in 2034, and I would love to see the French return to Australia’s premier stadiums, as a force, before then.
Annual visits to France by NRL clubs, perhaps on a rotational basis, could help achieve that aim.
Trent Robinson’s initiative this year, should be just the start.
If there is a missionary zeal, to see league in France progress, we might not see players like Jack Cantoni, son of league great, Vincent Cantoni, play rugby union as he did in the 1970s, when league in France started its decline. Jack, from the Bezier club, played 17 union Tests between 1971 and ’75.
Photo: Jack Cantoni.